Sitting in a corner of the living room is a large cardboard box from Burpee Gardens, which contains elements of my fantasy summer life: two hydrangea plants, two wisteria plants, and two teeny, tiny blueberry bushes. They arrived last week, back when we thought we were hurtling into spring, flip flops and lemonade on the porch. Brrr.
It’s too early to set them outside right now. I hope next week, when I feel pretty sure that the danger of frost has passed, I’ll unpack them. In the meantime I murmur warm assurances to them as I pass by. “Soon! Soon you will all be knee-deep in rich soil, reaching up to the warm sun, burgeoning with fruit and blooms galore!”
The blueberries are the real experiment. I have never tried to grow berries before. I think it is too early to worry about rabbits and deer, but our back yard is a veritable United Nations of birds.
The round of robins enjoy some crazy rain dances in and around the holly bushes. I have watched the many robins sitting on branches that are already heavy with holly berries and rain, unconcerned that they are the only birds outside in a deluge, as they drunkenly nosh on the gleaming red berries. Sometimes I have watched the birds fall to the ground, only to see them then spring straight up in the air to grab at some more berries from the low hanging branches. Awkwardness and determination have never been so adorable.
An echo of scolding mockingbirds also spends time in the holly bushes. Luke the wonder dog does not avail himself of those bushes. He doesn’t like to getting dive-bombed as he patrols on his doggie missions. Although there are some squirrelly boys who like to hang around an nearby oak tree, tempting him with their rodent wiles…
In the back corner of the yard, tucked up in ivy trailing along a brick wall, a jar of nuthatches call out with their raspy, click-click-clicking sound of veiled threats. I’m sure if Luke ever saw how tiny they were he wouldn’t give them a second glance, but they sound like large machinery ratcheting back before a putsch. They might even have their beady little eyes on our blueberry potential.
Along the neighbor’s wall we have seen a few berry-eating birds: thrushes, cedar waxwings, blue jays, woodpeckers, catbirds, bluebirds, and doves. While they wait for me to plant the blueberries they have finished harvesting the dogwood and the juniper berries. No wonder they are impatient for spring to begin.
Mr. Friday likes berries on his bowl of cereal most mornings. I doubt if we will be saving any money by planting our own blueberry bushes, but as part of my summer fantasy, I will wander out into the back yard, with a little basket in hand, and I will pick some blueberries for his breakfast. Just imagine me bathed in Disney-diffused light, with the friendly birds singing sweetly; me with flowing tresses and a trailing gown instead of my usual Andy Warhol-hair and comfy yoga pants glory.
I prefer my blueberries in muffins or pancakes, which are serious weekend food, because, as you know, Gentle Reader, I am not very likely to get up early to bake. But this could be my fantasy summer vacation, where I would be wont to trail around the kitchen in a leisurely, and dream-like, un-rushed fashion; lovingly cracking organic free-range eggs and sifting dry artisanal ingredients. Instead of the real-life workday, when I am grouchy and harried, and gnawing on a frozen bagel and swigging Diet Coke. No, the Fantasy Me will sip fragrant Lapsang souchong tea from a precious antique bone-china cup, while I peruse the Times of London, and I complete the crossword without a single tempting, cheating, go-ahead-and-look-it-up-on-Google thought – in ink.
The heat just roared on again. It’s time to get cracking. Bake some muffins this weekend, and let me know how your spring garden plans are shaping up!
“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.”